I was already to post this chapter, when an editor commented on a future chapter that the book was becoming hard to work on since it had become "so depressing".
Despite finishing the entire story, I hadn't stopped to consider how I'd changed my initial plans for the story. Basically it turned out much darker than I'd planned, and I thought it was important that I address it.
Although I'd warned readers that there was going to be "a lot of death" in the story, I'd originally planned a 12 to 15 chapter story, where the last 2 to 3 chapters would focus on the darker aspects of the story (it progresses over time). However, once the story was finished, it turned out to be 25 chapters in total, with about seven of which getting morbid.
The problem is, when I reached the segments I was concerned with, I decided that humor and the distracting sex scenes were 'disrespectful' given the circumstances, and that the characters, having been so richly drawn, deserved their own focus, detailing exactly what happened to them, mostly one at a time. Thus the story focuses much more on the demise of each of the characters, one at a time.
The problem, as I'm sure you're all aware, is that writers typically avoid popular character's deaths like... well, like the Plague! Nothing pisses readers off quicker than killing off a reader's favorite character. And here I am, not only killing off one, but going through a whole list of them, detailing their suffering making each death 'special'. The result is, as I said, especially dark.
After an editor pointed out that it was getting hard to edit the story, and that he couldn't see a lot of people making it past chapter 20 (the one 'visceral' death scene), much less continuing to the end.
So, considering all of that, I decided to stop and consider where I stood with the story. My options didn't seem to be very large. Basically I could rewrite the entire story, changing the entire plot premise, writing a whole new story and trying to fit it into the current environment, or I could try to minimize the damage by trying to interject some awkward humor and shortening the deaths into combined 'they died in their sleep' summaries, which I saw as cheating the characters, the story and the readers.
The final choice was to leave it as it was, but warn the readers what was coming so they could decide whether they wanted to continue or not. Looking over the original story description, I gave everyone fairly clear indications what was coming, so hopefully I won't loose too many readers, but I'm prepared for any that chose to bail now, figuring it's better to lose them now than it is by pissing them off.
But, all that said, I still think this is a great story, taking several unusual tacts, featuring reach characters and a much more detailed explanation how a single Plague could wipe out the entire Earth's population in only a couple of weeks.
So, with all that said, I'll now reinstall my original comments for the chapter.
Note: The death scenes are more emotional than visceral, so you don't have to worry about being grossed out.